Titanfall: The next big FPS
The creators of "Call of Duty" have successfully re-entered the elite levels of the gaming industry with "Titanfall" - the debut product of Respawn Entertainment, a new studio founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella best known as the co-founders of "Infinity Ward" the studio that created the "Call of Duty" series. Staffed by numerous industry veterans and ex-Infinity Ward employees there has been little doubt that the studio's first release would be anything less than a success.
After spending a good amount of time with "Titanfall," I am confident that the team at Respawn Entertainment has truly crafted the next evolution in the multiplayer first person shooter genre. Mind you I said evolution, not "transformation." "Titanfall" does not re-invent the wheel nor is it too radical a departure from the current kingpin's of the genre - rather, it's ingenuity can be found in subtler ways.
The title's main draw is the use of the titular "Titan" mechs which are dropped into the battlefield at various intervals, an event known as a "Titanfall." Players will seamlessly transition from fighting traditional ground-based combat a la "Call of Duty" to operating one of these gargantuan mechs seamlessly. Innovative weapons and a much faster game speed than your typical FPS add to the improvements. Additionally, the game lacks a traditional campaign or "story mode," however elements including plot developments and NPC's are present although they stand as little more than an afterthought.
The greatest achievement of the game is undoubtably its superb balancing system. Like many others, I had expected the game to be competitive when one is in possession of a Titan mech with frequent player deaths occurring otherwise. Thankfully this is not the case. While possession of a Titan provides the players with a heavy helping of firepower, I found playing without one to be just as satisfying if not more so. Without a Titan, your maneuverability is far greater, and the brilliant level design contains narrow structures, which Titans are too large to enter. Additionally, it is far more satisfying to take out a mech on your own than it is when you're in one yourself.
With multiplayer FPS titles, keeping the image on screen consistent is of the utmost priority. While "Titanfall" has been developed with high end PC's and the current generation of consoles in mind, the version I played on "Xbox 360" still did an admiral job of keeping the frame rate steady at around 30 frames per second. Only one the rare instances in which five plus players were in possession of a Titan at the same time did the game start to slow down from all the action on-screen, albeit for only a few moments. I'll admit that the artistic design of many of the games maps is a bit lacking but considering how secondary they are in the scope of frantic multiplayer mayhem, this shortcoming is practically an afterthought.
"Titanfall" might not be the next big "must-have" game in the industry, but I'll be darned if it doesn't provide one of the best multiplayer experiences for shooter fans in years. The lack of a traditional story mode is disappointing and the visuals while steady simply aren't as impressive as one would hope. But if you're willing to look the other way, there's a lot of entertainment to be enjoyed here.
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